December 15, 2017
Created by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the PARCC assessment is a multi-state effort to administer a standardized test to grade-level students that not only meets the criteria set forth by the Common Core Standards, but also aims to measure a student's readiness for college and the professional workforce. According to PARCC, the PARCC assessment "provides better information for teachers and parents to identify where a student needs help, or is excelling, so they are able to enhance instruction to meet individual student needs".
Designed with the Common Core standards in mind, the PARCC assessment goes through a rigorous life-cycle that begins with the creation of a test item, a thorough review conducted by classroom leaders, higher-ed faculty, and curriculum coordinators, a field test administered by PARCC staff, and finally the administration of the actual assessment.
The assessment, however, is not without controversy. Originally consisting of twenty-four participating states, the PARCC test has, in just three school years since its release, seen the participation level drop to just eight-states (including New Jersey), and the District of Columbia. Critics note a number of concerns with the test ranging from federal government overreach to actual technical glitches during testing. According to Save Our Schools NJ, an "all-volunteer organization of parents and other public education supporters who believe that every child in New Jersey should have access to a high-quality public education," the PARCC test is simply another standardized assessment that does little more than "measure the income and educational background of students' families, with students from wealthier families and students whose parents have completed college and beyond, on average, receiving significantly higher scores on such tests than students from lower-income families."
Despite the criticism, the PARCC assessment continues to be one-part of how New Jersey evaluates overall student achievement. And although, according to a September 2017 article in nj.com, "a large number of New Jersey students continued to test below their grade level on the statewide exam…most students scored higher on the 2017 PARCC than during the first two-years the English and math test was given."
For students in grades 3 through 12, the PARCC assessment is administered, in school during the spring, after students complete "most of algebra 1, geometry, or algebra 2" for the math portion, and "ninth, 10th, or 11th-grade" for the English Language Arts portion. Taken on a computer, as opposed to the traditional bubble-sheet format, the PARCC assessment asks questions that place an emphasis on evaluating a student's ability to comprehend and problem solve.
Students are scored within a range of five defined levels, beginning at Level 1: Did Not Yet Meet Expectation and Level 5: Exceeded Expectations. The student's score, along with the overall performance of students in the state, school, and district are included in a student score record that is not only kept by the state, but is also sent home to the parents/guardians of the student.
As it currently stands, there are no opt out options for students or parents who wish to not participate in PARCC testing. And despite Governor-elect Phil Murphy's plan to "drop the controversial PARCC test and eliminate standardized testing as a requirement for graduation," any new plan or changes to current assessment requirements is likely to be a lengthy, contentious issue.
Regardless of your views of standardized testing, including the PARCC assessment, it's safe to say that preparation is key. Preparation will not only allow your child to become familiar with what is expected on the assessment, but will also help reduce the stress that often accompanies children during test-taking
At The Test Tutor we offer PARCC practice materials for grades 6 through 8; grades 2 through 5 are coming soon. Designed by experienced educators and based on the latest educational research, you'll find that the questions on our practice assessments are similar to the types of questions your child will see on the assessment. In addition, our questions help students familiarize themselves with the complexity and rigor of the PARCC assessment, including detailed answer explanations.
If you're interested in ensuring that your child can take the PARCC test with confidence and ease, contact us today and inquire about the downloadable and printable practice test available to you in a matter of minutes.
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